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‘Boycott US products’
campaign gains momentum

By Sarah Abuljadayel,
Arab News,
24 April 2002


JEDDAH, 24 April — The Saudi market is inundated by boycott calls of American products and franchises to protest Washington’s complicity in Israeli-perpetrated crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territories.

As a result, local companies — especially those in the food sector — are placing adverts in newspapers announcing special offers in a bid to increase their customer share. Still others are finding themselves having to deny that they are in fact owned by Americans.

Recently, the House of Donuts franchise announced in the press that they are one hundred percent Saudi-owned.

Sameer A. Naseer, the general manager of Naseer Group which runs the chain, spoke to Arab News about the group’s latest advert.

“We are not an American franchise,” he explained.

“We created the House of Donuts line in Jeddah 20 years ago. We were students in the US and we liked the idea of American sweets, so when we came back to the Kingdom we created our own trademark — which is one hundred percent Saudi. We sell the rights around the world, and now we have more than 180 branches, making us the fourth biggest donut company in the world”.

Asked about his views on the boycott policy in general, he said: “I agree on the boycott policy, but first of all it should be effective and we should deliver our message to the right people. Secondly it should be adopted by official and professional people to guide the public on the effective ways to deliver the message.”

While Arabs and Muslims all over the world are calling for a boycott of American products, here in the Kingdom Saudis and expatriates have taken the boycott in their stride.

Over the past few weeks, several different blacklists of American products have been circulating in Jeddah through fliers, messages and letters, with some offering an alternative list of products from various European and Asian companies.

While the action seems to be informal and unorganized, 40-year-old Khalid Matouq, an employee of a leading commercial bank in Jeddah, told Arab News that the move is a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“The boycott is one of the best ways to show our anger and demonstrate our protest against Americans who have been supporting the inhuman aggression by the Israelis against our people in the occupied lands,” he said.

Idrees Zaki from Sudan, who has been living in Jeddah for the last seven years working as an accountant for a private company, said: “This is the only thing people can do: not buy American products.”

Outraged by what is happening in Palestine, Nasir Al-Gahtani, a government employee, said that he supports a boycott of American products more than ever and hopes to see more people doing the same thing.

“Despite the domination of American products in our market, we can manage easily with other international products,” he said.

Khalid Marouf, the manager of a major supermarket in the Safa district, said that his regular customers have begun to ask about goods that are not from America.

“Sales of American goods have fallen by about 20 percent and this is set to increase over the next few weeks due to the rapid increase in the number of people who are joining the campaign,” he said.

He added that he has been ordering more Asian products.

A.F., a manger of an American fast food outlet who refused to give his name, said sales in US fast food chains dropped by 35-40 percent and were significantly affected by the current boycott not only in Saudi Arabia but everywhere in the Middle East.

Nasir Al-Alawi, a sales manager, said that he has banned his kids from eating at any of the US fast food chains as part of the anti-American product campaign.

“We used to go once a week to one of the famous American fast food restaurants but we have decided to stop. My kids understood why they shouldn’t support American products after they saw the massacres committed by the Israelis with the help of Americans against our brothers in Palestine,” he said.